Two days ago 6 Spanish soldiers were attacked and killed in Lebanon. This is an excerpt from the Spanish newspaper El Pais that shows that half of them were Colombians fighting in the Spanish Army.

Los fallecidos son: Jefferson Vargas Moya, de 21 años; Jeyson Alejandro Castaño Abadía, de 20; y Yhon Edisson Posada Valencia, de 20; todos de nacionalidad colombiana; y Jonathan Galea García, de 18 años, de Madrid; Juan Carlos Villora Díaz, de 20, de Ávila; y Manuel David Portas Ruiz, de 20, de Sevilla.

Joining the Spanish army is a way to immigrate to Spain. Foreigners can join the Spanish Army and after serving for a certain number of years they can gain Spanish citizenship. The Spanish Army did this because Spain has a very difficult time convincing Spaniards born in a now very successful consumer society to die trying to promote peace in the Middle East. I am not surprised that very few Spaniards would want to enlist. Personally I am troubled by this recruiting practice. I am a Latin American myself (Argentine) and I don´t see why Latin Americans should die fighting in the Middle East.

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Jose on June 27, 2007  · 

Foreigners can join the Spanish Army and after serving for a certain number of years they can gain Spanish citizenship

Martin, I believe this is only applied on US not in Spain. The ministry of defense opened the opportunity to join spanish army to people from all countries since there was a low number of applicants to then recently created then professional army

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Marcos Martinez Sancho on June 27, 2007  · 

The Spanish Army has no business in the Middle East. Neither in Haiti, Congo nor any other country where Spanish interests are not at stake. The job of the Spanish Army should be the protection of the Spanish enclaves in Northern Africa, as well as the Canary Islands. However, since I think we are engaged in a global war against Islamofascism, I don’t see why Spanish special op teams can’t be deployed in Iraq or elsewhere to hunt down and kill Al-Qaeda operatives.

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Francisco on June 27, 2007  · 

Hi Martin,

I would be troubled if the mission was a “war mission” (i.e. Spain attacking another country for Spain’s interests).

However that mission is a “peace mission” under the mandate of United Nations, so nationality matters very little, in my opinion.

Maybe the title of your post be rather: “Who is dying for Lebanon?

And I feel it is fair to remark the nationality of the deceased so that both Colombians and Spaniards feel equally proud of them.


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Martin Vives on June 27, 2007  · 

Maybe for the same reason why slaves fought in the American Civil War. Because carrying out the duties any other american should be able to fullfill, they wanted to prove that they deserved the same rights as any other american had.

A citizen should be the person who feels proud of the country he lives in, works honestly and thinks about his co-citizens as they were from his own country of origin. I think like that maybe because my mother was born in Alicante, when she was 2 her family flew to Argentina for 10 years, then back to Spain, then she worked 7 years in German, then ended up finally in Mallorca. And that’s why I think Spain has the duty to take care of immigrants as Spaniards were once taken care of. (Within common sense limits, in order to make the system sustainable)

Going back to the topic… Why so many african americans join the US Army? It’s a matter of money since their position in american society makes it difficult for them to live the so well promulgated American Dream? When someone is willing to take the risk of dying “for a country” is showing that he deserves the same treatment as any other fellow citizen even though he was not born withing that country’s bounderies. (I will not talk about the “for a country” expression, since dying in Irak is not really dying for the USA, at least not the USA that most US citizens would like to live in, not to mention the rest of the world.)

In any case, even in the case that those soldiers did not have spanish citizenship yet, they showed they deserved one. They proved themselves and their families to be as spanish as any other “pure” spanish citizen, and they should be treated and remembered as such. And why a Latin American should die fighting in the Middle East, is a question that every Latin American who takes that decision should answer.

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Luis Ernesto on June 27, 2007  · 

What about the US Army that is full of “latinos” looking for better achievements since many years ago?

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Martin Varsavsky on June 27, 2007  · 

Luis Ernesto,

In fact, that policy had been criticized by my European friends but now Europeans are doing the same.

Martin Varsavsky on June 27, 2007  · 

Francisco, I agree that this is a peace mission but the soldiers who enlist in Spain cannot make that distinction. And I am very sorry for these soldiers as well who died trying to prevent Israelis and Lebanese from killing each other.

Francisco on June 27, 2007  · 


I see your point (very good one btw).

I would add that maybe (Irak’s brief episode apart) Spain has a good track record in the last decades as to use its military forces for peaceful missions under UN international legality.

So probably* foreigners who enlist in the Spanish army trust beforehand that Spain is not going to engage in “war missions” for a while, making the nationality’s argument less relevant (but not entirely out, I guess)

*If people who enlist really believe an episode similar to Irak’s will never happen in a long time. Spanish citizens’ response to the decision to go to that war may help to buy that assumption.

Very interesting post to reflect. Thnks.

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Ziad M.Jari on March 15, 2008  · 

I was many years ago in spain , i used to talk spanish languge;i want to travel ,live ,and work in spain with my family(4 children&their mom) . I work as achef i have money about ($70000) ,please call me in lebanon (+9618370525).

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